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Firefox 11 Gets Vibrator API

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From the 'Browser that Vibrates' files:

Mozilla developers have landed some interesting new mobile features for the upcoming Firefox 11 for Android release. The new features will enable the browser to take full advantage of underlying hardware features, including the ability to vibrate, use a camera, check battery status and send an SMS.

"Web apps, just like native ones, need a way to send feedback to various sensors - including notification vibes," Mozilla Developer John Hammink wrote. "The W3C spec lays a foundation, which we've implemented. Note that you'll need a device with a vibrator to test this one."

The Vibrator capabilities in Android is something that users benefit from today. Though the notification system users are alerted whenever a new Gmail message comes in, and if the ringer is set to vibrate, the phone vibrates for the message notification. With Firefox today, there is a notification mechanism for tabs (if a new item comes in) that could be linked to the Vibrator API for mobile, though it likely only makes sense for a tablet and not a small phone screen. I can also see this as a way to enhance the mobile browser based gaming experience with additional feedback.

In addition to Vibrator API, the new Battery API will integrate with battery status, which again is not something you normally thing off with a browser. But as Mozilla pushes forward with its' own mobile efforts like Boot2Gecko, the need to expose the underlying hardware becomes increasingly important.

Now the Camera API is another story - that's something that makes a whole lot of sense right away. With it you could perhaps use Twitter browser app (instead of the native app) and use the camera for example. SMS is another obvious API, and it's great to see it land.

Overall these APIs are not the sorts of things you would ever see on a desktop based browser. But as Mozilla (and everyone else) moves to an increasingly mobile world, the time has come for the browser to fully embrace mobile features.

You can check out the latest Firefox 11 for Android builds at: https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/mobile/nightly/latest-mozilla-central-android-xul/

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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